“I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness. All seems beautiful to me. Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me; Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.” ― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Defining Our Own Beauty
In 4th or 5th grade, some of the ‘cool’ kids would play star wars at recess. I thought it would be fun to join in. I wanted to be Princess Leia—but I was told ‘if they let me play’ I had to be Darth Vader. They would laugh and snicker- but I would suck it up and play the role anyway. I wanted so badly to be a part of their world.
I would chase the beautiful boys and girls around the merry-go-round and the basketball courts bellowing, “You don’t know the power of the dark side!” I became as big and monstrous as I could make myself all the while feeling a part of myself becoming smaller and smaller.
After school, I would come home and run to the bathroom. Slamming the door behind me I began to claw at my face. The new welts would burn as the salty tears ran down each red stripe. I would yell at myself in the mirror and bang the walls with my fists as I slithered to the floor in tremendous inner pain. No matter what-- I couldn’t escape the prison of my body—my split teeth, large limbs, and my fatness.
I would continue to want to be in this world for years. Even when I told myself I wasn’t playing anymore. I bought into the deep seeded belief that I was less valuable as a human being because of my outward appearance and perceived flaws. I think I took on a Darth Vader complex that permeated many of my relationships. It would lead me to believe that I was always going to be tainted in some way—and that my beauty was less than, not real, not pure, and not feminine enough.
Many of us share similar— what I like to call, ‘beauty wound stories’. We have been at war with ourselves. Trying to rearrange our bodies and faces into a perfect ideal- and the closer we get to it… our happiness factor goes up, and on our bad hair days (or whatever)—we feel less happy. This a crazy way to spend our energy. There is so much more life to be a ‘livin.
I like to think that I am beyond all that now—that I don’t care that I am not Princess Leia (I think her hairstyle sucks anyway). But my beauty transformation story is fluid—and when we see enough images of the idyllic beauty—we can forget our own unique loveliness. When we hear enough times that we don’t measure up- we start to devalue what and who we already are. We become brainwashed about what beauty really is. We sign up for others' instructions for our lives, looking for their blessing, or their approval that we are attractive, worthy—or whatever enough…to join in the game. But it’s a game. It’s just a wicked, stupid game. And someone else is writing the script and creating the rules. It’s a storyline that we have to actively work at to change. It’s ongoing. Women have to support one another— and help one another to leave the bad script behind.
We must become the beholders of our own beauty.
It’s up to each of us to decide our own worth. It’s our radiance, our light that we share with others- and we should be the ones who define it.